Guide On How To Oil Work Boots For Best Result

No matter what type of work boots you have, knowing how to oil your work boots is necessary. In the following section we’ll explain how the process works and how it will benefit your work boots.

Why You Need to Oil Your Boots

If you don’t oil your boots, they’ll get stiff, be difficult to put on and crack. Oil can add vitality and flexibility to old work boots, but it’s something even new work boots require. Oiling is quick, easy and there are lots of options available.

Like your skin, leather needs care and protection. The difference is your skin gets sustenance from your body, but leather won’t receive any until you give it. The more you use leather, the quicker it is going to wear out.

This is especially applicable to work boots as they’re subjected to weather, dirt and a harsh environment. If not taken care of, those work boots will crack, stiffen and deteriorate. With high quality oil however, you’ll be able to nourish the leather and restore its flexibility. With regular application, the oil will help the leather maintain its suppleness.

Which Oil Should Be Used

There are several oil leather solutions available. Just make sure that it is suitable for the type of leather your boots are made of. If you want to go the natural route, use coconut oil or olive oil.

There are some people who rely on mink oil exclusively, and it won’t hurt to use it. What is important is you oil boots when needed. You also have to make sure the oil ingredients won’t cause damage. For instance suede and nubuck need specific types of conditioners, though you won’t find a lot of work boots made from them.

Boot Oil vs Mink oil

If your boots are subjected to heavy duty use and exposed to weather, dust and dirt, use mink oil to protect the leather. Mink oil fills up the pores on the leather, so it’s going to make the leather darker.

If your boots aren’t used that often, boot oil conditioner or cream polish will suffice. These are not as powerful as mink oil, but it’s good enough for boots that are moderately used. These oils will also leave the finish as is.

Materials You Will Need

  • Boot conditioner or mink oil
  • Damp rag or cloth
  • Horsehair brush

Step By Step Process of Applying Oil to Boots

  1. Remove the laces off the boots.
  2. Dust the leather off and remove the dirt. You may use a damp rag or toothbrush. If there is only a little dirt you can get rid of it with a piece of cloth. If it’s caked with mud, let the boots dry first. Once the mud has hardened, use a soft bristle brush to remove them.
  3. If you used a damp rag for cleaning, wait for it to dry. If not, proceed to the next step.
  4. There are two ways to apply oil: use a piece of cloth or an applicator if one is provided.
  5. Rub the oil all over the boots. Don’t hesitate to apply a generous amount of oil if the boots are worn out.
  6. Get a clean rag and use that to wipe away the excess oil.
  7. Wait for oil to dry. This may take several hours, but that’s normal. It’s also okay if some parts dry faster than others. If it is still taking too long, you may rub some of the oil in to speed up the process.
  8. Once dry, check if your work boots feel moist and supple. If so, you’re done. If it feels stiff, you may need to apply another layer.

Some boots have leather slabs along the bottom, and the sole may be leather too. Oil these like you would the rest of the boots. Oiling the sole makes it slippery, so wait until it’s 100% dry before wearing.

Only one or two coats of oil are necessary for these parts. You also don’t want to apply too much on your boots will get messy.


  • Oiling helps maintain the integrity of your work boots.
  • Oiling can make old work boots look new.
  • Helps prolong its life.
  • Work boots that are constantly used will benefit from oiling.
  • Makes the leather soft and more comfortable to wear.


  • Oiling takes time and can be messy for a first time user.
  • Can be quite a chore if you have several work boots.

​Frequently Asked Questions

Question:How often should I oil my boots?

​Answer: ​If your boots go through mud and snow on a regular basis, oil once a week. If they are not used often, once every two or four months will suffice. Anytime the leather starts to feel stiff, oiling will be required.

Question:How long does it take for oil to dry on my boots?

​Answer: ​It’s best to let your boots dry overnight.

Question: ​How much oil should I apply?

​Answer: ​If your boots aren’t that dirty, a thin layer of oil will do. Just make certain it covers all areas of your boots.

Question:Will oiling boots remove the dirt?

​Answer: ​No. Oils and conditioners should be applied once you have cleaned your boots. Applying oil before cleaning will trap the dirt in the boots, making it difficult to remove.

Question:Which is more effective, an oil applicator or rag?

​Answer: ​Both will do fine. However, it is easier to work with an applicator.

Question:Is it true that applying too much oil conditioner / mink oil will damage work boots?

​Answer: ​Too much conditioning cannot be good. However this will only be an issue if you apply multiple coatings on your boots. A couple of thin layers won’t hurt. Just make sure to let them dry.


There are many things you can do to take care of your footwear, but the oiling is probably the most important. If you have the right oil, you can make those work boots last, and even those old ones will look new again.